I had the honor to be part of the jury on this important international wine competition which in 2016 has celebrated the Syrah variety. Chile was the biggest winner with 4 wines on the top ten. Switzerland is an interesting surprise, as well as Spain and Italy! 

Every year La Grande Dégustation de Montréal invites producers from all over the world to take part in its prestigious Palmarès. This internationally renowned competition brings together 150 wines for a blind tasting performed by a jury made up of specialists from the wine industry. This year, the Palmarès celebrates Syrah wine.

The complex fruity, spicy and floral aroma of this global variety lends itself to countless pairings which vary according to its place of origin. Featuring a characteristic violet nose, the Syrah develops over the years a rich, complex bouquet featuring a pastiche of musk, truffle, leather and coffee, sometimes enhanced with spicy notes.
On October 25th, a jury of 30 specialists, presided by Jacques Orhon, had the pleasure of tasting 147 wines from 11 different countries. “There is no doubt that this year, once again, the contestants in the Palmarès de La Grande Dégustation de Montréal were outstanding, says Jacques Orhon.
The deliberation of the judges was all the more pleasing to the senses, bearing testament to the Syrah’s incredibly rich and diversified palate of flavour.” This meticulous process shone a light on the top 10 Syrah wines, which were announced and honoured on Thursday, November 3rd during the opening ceremony of La Grande Dégustation de Montréal 2016. In addition, the SAQ offered the top six wines the opportunity to be featured in its stores’ Cellier throughout 2017.

1 – VALDIVIESO WINEMAKER RESERVA SYRAH Viña Valdivieso, Valle de Colchagua, Chile – 100% Syrah First place of the Palmarès 2016 is held by a world-renowned vineyard. Located near Santiago, this vineyard has been producing wine since 1879. It is also the first wine house in Chile to produce sparkling wines.
The best wine Valdivieso Winemaker Reserva Sira
2 – RÉSERVE DES ADMINISTRATEURS SYRAH 2015, VALAIS A.O.C. Cave St -Pierre, Chamoson, Switzerland – 100% Syrah Swiss wines are worth discovering, especially those from the Valais. Produced under the watchful eye of Wine Expert Thiery Ciampi, this reserve wine is made from the very best plots of Syrah from Cave St-Pierre.
3 – LUMÀ SYRAH 2015 Cantina Cellaro, Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy – 100% Syrah With a view looking down to Lake Arancio, this winery features slope-side vineyards. Here, superior quality Syrah wines are produced in the utmost respect of the Sicilian natural environment and soil.
4 – KATNOOK FOUNDER’S BLOCK SHIRAZ Wingara Wine Group, Coonawarra, Australia – 100% Syrah This vineyard is located at the heart of Coonawara—among the most reputable wine-producing regions in all of Australia. Known for its red soil, this region is unlike any other in the world.
5 – BOYA SYRAH Garcés Silva Family Vineyards, Vallée de Leyda, Chile – 100% Syrah This young family-owned business, founded in 1999 by José A. Garcés Silva, uses environmentally-friendly production methods to produce quality wines while reducing its ecological footprint.
6 – INFINITUS SYRAH Cosecheros y Criadores, Oyón-Alava, Spain – 100% Syrah Created in 1951, this family business now runs five vineyards throughout Spain. Coscheros Y Cradores produces modern wines while offering excellence in terms of quality and price.
7 – ESCUDO ROJO SYRAH Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Maipo, Chile – 100% Syrah This Chilean estate dates back to 1997. Escudo Rojo (“red crest”) refers to the Rothschild family crest in Chile. Rothschild wines are known for their modern style that offers both Chilean and European appeal.
8 – McGUIGAN PRIVATE BIN SHIRAZ Australian Vintage, Pokolbin, Australia – 95%+ Syrah Australian Vintage is one of Australia’s largest wine producers. First place in the Palmarès 2016 goes to McGuigan Wines, whose vineyard is located in beautiful Hunter Valley.
9 – ORIGIN GRAN RESERVA SYRAH 2014 Viña Chocalan, Valle del Maipo, Chile – 90% Syrah This young business run by the Toro family planted its first grape vines in 2001. The state-of-the-art vineyard stands out through its exceptional quality-price ratio.
10 – HÉRITAGE SYRAH 2014, VALAIS A.O.C. Vins Philippe Varone, Sion, Switzerland – 90% Syrah Operating in the Valais region since the 1990s, this vineyard spans 14 hectares on the hills of Sion and is no stranger to the podium. It also won the gold medal at the 2006 International Wine Competition in Brussels.
SPECIAL MENTION: A special mention was given to the winery Mas du Novi for its Syrah/Grenache blended wine Chemin du Novi 2014, which was tasted out of category and greatly enjoyed by the judges.

Jacques Orhon – sommelier, teacher and founder of the Association Canadienne des Sommeliers Professionnels

Malcolm Anderson – former columnist at The Gazette, instructor and speaker
Frédéric Arnould – journalist and blogger
Samuel Auger – SAQ training advisor
Roxanne Bégin – sommelier and blogger
Éric Bertoldi – SAQ product expert
Marie-Hélène Boisvert – sommelier and blogger
Kler-Yann Bouteiller – sommelier, teacher and columnist
Carmine Carravagio – ITHQ sommellerie teacher
Caroline Chagnon – sommelier and host
André J. Côté – sommelier and wine columnist
François Côté – expert sommelier
Mathieu Fournier – co-creator of the online guide Le Sommelier virtuel
Vincent Fournier – co-creator of the online guide Le Sommelier virtuel
Ronald Georges – sommelier and author of the blog Millésime on Radio-Canada
Denis Giroux – wine columnist, host and instructor
Marie-Michèle Grenier – sommelier, columnist and host
Nick Hamilton – advisor and speaker
Barbara J. Herrero – president of the Canadian Association of Œnologists
Marina La Forgia – sommelier and wine journalist
Robert Lamarre – SAQ wine advisor
Kathleen McNeil – sommellerie teacher and author
Édith Mercier – sommelier Julie Perreault – SAQ product expert
Guénaël Revel – teacher, author and columnist
Luc Rolland – SAQ Signature product expert
Justin Rouette – SAQ product expert
Denis St-Pierre – expert sommelier
Marie-Fleur St-Pierre – head chef at Tapeo et Mesón
Geneviève Thibault – sommelier and host
Carl Villeneuve-Lepage – master sommelier at Le Local


Competition logistics undertaken by Sélections Mondiales des Vins Canada.

Co-presented by the Association québécoise des agences de vins, bières et spiritueux (AQAVBS) and the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), La Grande Dégustation de Montréal is a yearly event that welcomes nearly 200 winemakers, distillers and brewers, offering them a unique opportunity to engage and share their passion with over 13,000 enthusiasts, connoisseurs and professionals of wine, beer and spirits. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook at


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